February 15, 2016 Issue 23 Volume 4
High Expectations--Barbara Blackburn
Did you know that it's not enough to have high expectations? We have to put those expectations into action. Robert Marzano has looked at actions related to low and high expectations. He found distinct differences in the ways we relate to students if we have differing expectations.
For example, Libby is in my class, and she struggles. She never raises her hand in class, rarely completes her homework, and just seems to be a half step behind her classmates academically. Tomazz, on the other hand, is a sharp student. He always adds to the discussion, asks extending questions, and completes his homework. Now, let's say that one day, both students only complete half of their homework. With Tomazz, I'm disappointed and give him another opportunity to complete it. With Libby, I'm just grateful she did anything! Because my expectations differ, so do my actions.
Teachers who reject high expectations to all their students act in certain ways. They ask higher order and extending questions, provide appropriate wait time, give more positive feedback, stand in closer proximity to students, and make more eye contact. The converse of each of those is true if you have low expectations.
I know when I was a teacher, I made the mistake of acting on lower expectations. I was guilty of asking "easier" questions of my struggling students, moving on quickly if they couldn't answer, and leaving them alone as long as they weren't misbehaving. In other words, I sometimes gave up on them, without even realizing I was doing it. The question for you is this: Have you ever acted on low expectations, perhaps subconsciously? And if so, what will you do about it?